Very good thanks. The sun is shining and I’m cooking up sounds in my studio. Can’t complain!
Congratulations on the release of “Just Be Good To Me”, how does it feel?
Great! It’s one I put together last year, when the country was still in a state of semi lockdown, so it’s especially nice to be able to play it out and see it getting such a warm reception. Same goes for all of the singles we’ve done so far really – some of them have been finished and ready to go for a while, so it’s great to finally set them free into the world.
It is a funk soul classic and a staple of retro 80s nights what inspired you to cover it?
It all came about really from another track I was working on for my album (forthcoming later in the year on Jalapeno Records), which features Andrea Brown on vocals. I’ve known Andrea a long time (she is a fellow Birmingham resident), having booked her band 4oz Of Groove to play at some of the nights I’ve promoted in the city. As we were finishing the recording session for the track on the album, she suggested we try doing a cover together. Just Be Good To Me is something I’ve seen her cover with 4oz, and knew it suited her voice really well, so knocked up a cumbia rhythm for her to demo over the top of. It all came together really nicely – some tracks take ages and ages to reach their final form, whereas this one just kind of clicked straight away.
You’ve given a reggae shine to it with strings, what was the easiest and most challenging part of recording this?
Actually one of the biggest challenges was recording the bass. As mentioned, it was put together whilst the country was in a state of lockdown, and Chris Mapp – the bassist on this one – had his kids at home 24/7. He’s playing upright bass here, and it required a nice quiet, delicate environment to capture properly – not something that’s easy to achieve with the kids running riot around you! With regards to the easiest part of the recording, basically Andrea turned up to the studio, smashed out a perfect vocal and the job was done!
You are an artist from Birmingham, how did it start for you?
It all came from DJing really. That’s what I grew up doing at home in my bedroom, and once I moved to Birmingham (about 15 years ago) I started playing out in bars and music venues. This developed into promoting my own nights where I would book a number of local live acts to come and play each week, and this in turn lead to my first production work – remixing some of the bands and artists that played at the nights.
What did you listen to growing up?
All sorts really. I’m from a large family (one of six), so there was always a lot of different sounds being played in the house. I would like to say it was something really cool that got me into DJing as a young teenager, but it was mainly cheesy happy hardcore records to begin with. As I matured, the tempo of my tastes in music slowed down, and I really got into house music in my late teens. Eventually more and more sounds attracted my attention, and now I’m into all sorts, as you may be able to tell from my musical output.
You are also a DJ and remixer, what’s been a real stand out moment for you?
I run a regular night in Birmingham called Tropical Soundclash at a venue called the Hare & Hounds. Some of those have been really amazing to play at. A world class soundsystem in a dark, intimate room full of friends and people who are totally into the music – it doesn’t really get much better than that.
If you could remix anyone who would it be?
Mmmmmm, so many to choose from! I’d love to get my hands on some of the multitrack recordings of The Salsoul Orchestra. Disco goodness on an epic scale – the possibilities would be vast!
You’re also a producer, what’s your approach to a new project?
I have a fairly simple outlook whenever I start something – my intention is pretty much always to make something that would be good to dance to, and might fit nicely into one of my DJ sets. I usually throw a ton of ideas into the pot, mix it up, spit out anything that doesn’t work (most of the ideas!) and then build from what’s left over. It’s kind of music making by trial and error.
What to you is an essential part of your set up?
Well my setup is fairly minimal – just a computer, pair of speakers, headphones and a midi keyboard most of the time, so I guess they are all essential! When I’m out and about though, without doubt it’s a pair of earplugs. I damaged one of my ears very badly a few years ago standing for too long next to a horribly loud speaker and so now I’m super careful to protect my one fully working ear. Any producers, DJs or musicians out there reading this – invest in earplugs now if you haven’t already, as you will regret it if you end up doing what I did!
You have gigs coming up in May, how are preparations going for that?
Yeah, pretty good. Working with a full live band is all very new to me, so it’s been a work in progress and I’m sure will continue to be for a long time yet. We’ve had a some really enjoyable gigs already though, and I’m very much looking forward to getting out over the summer and playing to plenty more lovely people. Organising gigs incorporating 8 or 9 live musicians is quite an undertaking though – I never appreciated how easy it was to turn up on my own and bash out a load of tunes back when all I did was DJ!
COVID impacted the creative industry in a big way, what kept you motivated?
Ultimately, it’s all about the music for me, and whilst the live music side of things was obviously completely closed down, recorded music was still there and I was still hearing loads of things to keep me inspired. Also that thought of the light at the end of the tunnel – “one day I’ll be able to play this to a crowd of dancing people” – was something that certainly helped me keep on working on new tunes.
The last two years have been a time to reflect, what did you learn about yourself?
That sometimes the best thing to do is to step back and look at things in a bit of perspective. When live music and nightclubs closed down my first thought was how catastrophic it all was. And it was in many ways, but it also allowed me to stop worrying about making sure I was producing enough to keep my profile elevated enough to pick up DJ bookings for example, and instead focus on making music purely for the fact that I really enjoy doing it.
What are you listening to at the moment?
As ever, all sorts but currently (and in keeping with my latest single) anything on a cumbia tip. I’ve been going through the back catalogues of artists including Los Warahuaco and Afrosound and thoroughly enjoying my trip through 1970s Colombia.
What are you looking forward to next?
Making more music! Debut album is due out at the end of the summer, and I’m excited to see what I can come up with to follow it.